The skies were cloudless, the sun was shining, the mountains were capped in white; it was a perfect day for football. The energy was high, and the fans were ready for war. The stadium was a sea of orange, with puddles of yellow dotted all over. The Mile High rematch proved to be a day of redemption, one that was in the perfect tune of the storybook season. Today, some of us stand deflated, some excited, some left unsure. I'll look back on that day of victory, and that will be what encompasses my memory of this season. Maybe, that game was just another football game. Maybe, it was something more.
Here we go; it's preseason. The NFL adverted a lockout, and excitement was high. There are question marks after the Dallas game, hope of things to come after the Buffalo game, and confidence after the Seattle game. An 8-8 record seemed plausible, although the range of high hopes and pessimism was large. Some were calling for Tebow to start from game one in order to no longer waste time on Orton, some were wanting Orton to start and for Tebow to come in if the team performed poorly. The Raider game hits, and the fan base was hoping to start the season well with a favorable early schedule. Then Orton dropped the ball.
Denver squeaked by the Bengals, and lost a close one in Tennessee, followed up by the massacre in Green Bay. The calls for Tebow are at a high pitch, with the season looking as though it is falling into the abyss, much like its predecessor. Orton had a first half to forget with a poor performance against San Diego, and Tebow came in for relief. He moves the offense late, almost mounting an amazing comeback, with a failed deep pass and an apparent PI ending a momentousness charge. The Broncos then roll into Miami, and after an overall poor three quarter performance the team pulls off an amazing comeback in the final 5 minutes. The Tebow train is moving at full steam, until a dreadful performance against Detroit leaves many questions and doubts. At 2-5, the season still appears to be in jeopardy, and the future is uncertain.
Changes then ensue, and the Broncos look to adjust their offense in hopes of creating something with the talent they possess. Doubters and haters are abound, believing that this team had no shot, that Tebow had no future. The Oakland game comes, and the Broncos start slow; Quinn is warming up on the sidelines. The second half comes, and the team starts to click, putting up an impressive performance on an undisciplined Oakland squad, and earn a win. The Broncos go on to pound KC, and upset the Jets and a bored Revis. Denver edges out the Chargers, and they do the "impossible" by winning a shootout against Minnesota. The Marion Barber Miracle occurs, and Denver is on an improbable 6-game winning streak. The fans are singing praises of the playoffs, something that most had not conceived after the 1-4 start. New England then comes to town.
The Broncos started hot, but a miserable second quarter filled with turnovers leaves the team in a deficit after halftime, and the Patriots never looked back, taking a win. Buffalo then stuns Denver with an impressive performance, and the KC game was an overall poor football game. The Broncos back into the playoffs thanks to a Charger win over the Raiders, but doubts are high for some, while some others see the act of getting into the playoffs as something special in itself. The team pulled off the impossible, but the impossible didn't seem like enough. One of those last three games should have been won, and Oakland's fallacy was the only thing preventing another complete late season collapse. Maybe, reaching the playoffs was an unearned fluke. Maybe, it was something more.
It's game day, and I'm tailgating with my dad in the parking lot 2 hours before kickoff, eating some Sonic since we didn't have any desire to grill. It was the only game I went to this year; I saved up some money and could not pass up the opportunity, as I'm living locally and this is my final year before college. It was an absolutely beautiful day. We head into the stadium. We were in row 39 in the very far corner of the south stands; they were great seats. The skydivers glide into the stadium, orange balloons from the north stands fill the air, the national anthem is sung, and the jets perform a fly-over. The game kicks off, and the start is rocky. The offense is doing little, the defense is doing ok. The Broncos then go on to do what they had not done all season; they dominated in the second quarter, and completed deep passes at a high pitch. The third quarter comes, and the Steelers start to mount a comeback, going into the fourth quarter, where defensive performance prevents any shot at a game winning field goal. The break between the end of regulation and OT was tenuous; the Steelers seemed to have the momentum. The coin is tossed, and the Broncos get the ball. The fans are settled down, and the energy seems a bit low. And then...
Tebow hits Thomas over the middle. He makes a great stiff arm and turns on the jets. He breaks one last tackle and walks in at the corner where we were seated. The game is over. The stadium is in a frenzy. The team stays on the field for a bit to celebrate with the fans. Mile High Magic struck. It was the greatest game I ever had the pleasure to watch, and the first playoff game I was able to remember, since I was not a strong fan until '08. The Broncos did the impossible, and the season was officially a success.
I see the game as a parallel to the whole of the Broncos' season. The team started out slow, and worries were high. They then went on to do what they had never done before, and found massive success with it. The tides then turned, and doubts were high once again. They then capped off with a statement. We are the Denver Broncos. We are proud, and we will succeed. We will triumph over our past adversity. The most recent New England game put a damper on this, but as I'm writing this I'm finding myself getting happier.
I'm young; I'm almost 18. I have no memories of Elway. I have no memories of the '05 run. My football memories start with the '08 season, after having lived in Colorado for a few years. To me, the mediocrity and the late season collapses have been the depressing norm. Being able to experience this season was magical, and hopefully a sign of things to come. This season can be a springboard for future success, considering how young the team is and how far it came regardless. Maybe, this season was just another season. Maybe, this season is the beginning of an amazing run.
Maybe, Tebow can be my Elway.